Ford has fired about 230 contract engineers as it reorganises its product development operations, the Detroit News reported.

The newspaper said the engineers, axed last Friday, were employed by Kelley Services, Tag Automotive, MSX International and other contract-labour firms.

Ford is trimming contract-labour workers to streamline its car and truck development efforts, improve quality and enhance efficiency, Ford spokesman Said Deep told the Detroit News.

The newspaper said Ford is moving to a "commodity-based" approach to engineering to promote more parts sharing across vehicle lines.

For example, a single group of engineers will produce the brake systems for all Ford cars, pickups and SUVs, Deep told the Detroit News.

Under the old system, Ford employed a brake team for each vehicle in development, the newspaper’s report added.

Because of the changes, "some employees didn't have the skill set we needed," Deep told the Detroit News. The layoffs will be partially offset by some new contract hires, he added, according to the newspaper.

The Detroit News said Ford last year announced it would reduce its pay to contract-labour firms by 7% and similar moves were made by General Motors, Chrysler and large suppliers such as Visteon and Lear.

Ford's product development operations employ about 2,000 engineers from contract-labour firms, the Detroit News noted.